Sleeping on the job used to be an instant road to unemployment. Laziness, lack of care and idleness are just a few of the negative qualities associated with taking an afternoon snooze while at work.
However, some more progressive companies are starting to realise that letting their employees nap at work could benefit their businesses. We all know the negative impact sleep deprivation can have on our health, so companies like Google and Facebook are ensuring their employees are well-rested. Napping has become an integral part of their workplace culture and, if their status as the world’s largest tech giants is anything to go by, it seems to be working.
So, the stigma around napping at work is changing, and we think everyone should get in on the action. Here are our top reasons why you should let your employees get some afternoon shut-eye.
- Boosted Productivity
Our number one reason for letting your employees nap on the job is that napping is an extremely effective way to boost productivity.
There have been dozens of studies suggesting that napping in the early afternoon can increase productivity and alertness, helping your employees to get far more done than they would have managed if they’d pushed through their drowsiness.
Not only that, napping has been shown to beat caffeine when it comes to performance. Employees who are regularly hitting the caffeine stash could be in serious need of an afternoon nap, and surprisingly, it’ll do more for them than that 4 pm coffee hit.
- Fewer Sick Days
Sick days are a nightmare for any employer, but letting your employees nap during the day could mean fewer sick days need to be taken in the long term.
The effects sleep deprivation can have on the immune system are more severe than many people realise, with just a small amount of sleep-loss triggering a negative immune system response.
Letting your employees catch up on any missed sleep will help keep their immune system in tip-top condition. Year after year we see workplaces empty as the dreaded coughs and colds season hits. Catching up on missed sleep means they’ll be more likely to be able to fight off any nasty germs.
- Increased Creativity
Taking a nap can help get those creative juices flowing. If you feel your employees have hit a bit of a wall, napping could be the best way to help see the situation from a different angle and come up with new ideas.
Research presented at the Neuroscience 2012 meeting in New Orleans suggested that when we sleep our brain functions differently, connecting seemingly unrelated ideas and concepts. During sleep, the right side of our brains (the area most associated with creativity) becomes alert and busy, while the left remains much quieter.
This means the more creative side of our brain is hard at work and can help create solutions to problems we didn’t even know we had!
- Reduced Anxiety
Anxiety and stress are rife in office jobs, especially when employees are sitting down for long periods of time and facing tough deadlines.
However, a well-rested employee is a happy employee. Reduce the chances of irritability, inability to focus and anxiety in your employees by letting them take a time-out at various points in the day. Taking regular breaks increases motivation and makes the workplace a whole lot happier.
- Improved Memory
Taking a snooze can also do wonders for our memory and drastically increase our ability to learn.
In a study conducted by German researchers, two groups of people memorised one set of cards and, after a 40-minute break, another set. Those who napped during that 40 minutes remembered 15% more than the group that stayed awake.
If this research is anything to go by, napping can help us learn and memorise more than we would if we had stayed awake!
- Prevents Burnout
Any high-pressure job is likely to take its toll eventually. If your employees are constantly on the move or struggling with the weight of a thousand deadlines, they could be heading towards a clinical burnout.
Napping will help prevent over-exhaustion and subsequently a burnout, according to this study. Insufficient sleep, thoughts of work during leisure time and high work demands are all risk factors, but napping will help prevent this, meaning your employees stay on top of their game year-round.
- Encourages A Supportive Atmosphere
It’s all too common in the workplace for an ‘us vs. them’ culture to emerge. Really, you just want your employees to be happy and productive. Yet they’re convinced you expect them to stay up all night frantically emailing, and they’re sure they saw you roll your eyes when they returned 4 minutes late from their lunch break.
Encouraging your employees to focus on their mental and physical wellbeing, however, shows them that really, you’re on their side. Helping your employees perform at their very best by providing a safe space for them to relax is the perfect way to cultivate a respectful and supportive environment. They’ll be happier, more loyal and perhaps even have second thoughts about feigning that illness.
So, perhaps it’s time to take a leaf out of Google’s book and make napping a part of your company culture. While you don’t need to go all-out and invest in their cocoon-style nap pods, simply having a room in which you encourage your employees to take a little time-out is a great start. Encouraging napping breaks throughout the day may seem counterintuitive, but it won’t be long before you, and your employees start to see the benefits.
About the Author:
Having struggled with insomnia and neck issues her entire adult life, Rachel Brown has studied the topic of sleep intensely. Throw three beautiful (but cheeky) kids into the mix, and you can understand which it’s such an important area of her life! Through education and research, her quality of sleep has massively improved over the past few years. She now runs the site over at Pillow Picker, advising people on how to get a better, more comfortable night’s sleep.